Encyclopedia of American Civil Liberties

ISBN 13: 9780415762373

Encyclopedia of American Civil Liberties

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9780415762373: Encyclopedia of American Civil Liberties
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This Encyclopedia on American history and law is the first devoted to examining the issues of civil liberties and their relevance to major current events while providing a historical context and a philosophical discussion of the evolution of civil liberties.

Coverage includes the traditional civil liberties: freedom of speech, press, religion, assembly, and petition. In addition, it also covers concerns such as privacy, the rights of the accused, and national security. Alphabetically organized for ease of access, the articles range in length from 250 words for a brief biography to 5,000 words for in-depth analyses. Entries are organized around the following themes:

  • organizations and government bodies
  • legislation and legislative action, statutes, and acts
  • historical overviews
  • biographies
  • cases
  • themes, issues, concepts, and events.

The Encyclopedia of American Civil Liberties is an essential reference for students and researchers as well as for the general reader to help better understand the world we live in today.

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*Starred Review* This is a reference work worth waiting for. Although many of the topics have been covered in legal and political-science encyclopedias, they take on a new vibrancy when seen through the lens of civil liberties. Recent events have placed civil liberties and the tension between individual rights and national security squarely in the public dialogue, making this encyclopedia exceptionally timely and topical. Current issues such as America's handling of the global war on terror and the applicability of the Geneva Convention are addressed in entries on Abu Ghraib, John Ashcroft, the Department of Homeland Security, and Guantanamo Bay. But, as editor Finkelman reminds us, "the story of America is, in part, the story of civil liberties." Entries such as Free exercise clause; Marshall, John; Puritans; and Religious Liberty under eighteenth-century state constitutions tell this story. The story of America is also, in part, the story of the denial of civil liberties. This darker side is reflected in entries such as Alien and Sedition Acts, Ann Hutchinson trial , Miscegenation laws , Segregation , and Slavery.

In all, the 1,423 alphabetical entries, which range from 250 to 6,000 words, cover the history and politics of civil liberties from the time Europeans settled in the colonies to the present. Entries are grouped into six themes, as reflected in the "Thematic List of Entries": "Organizations and Government Bodies"; "Legislation and Legislative Actions, Statutes, and Acts"; "Historical Overview"; "Biography"; "Cases"; and "Themes, Issues, Concepts, and Events." More than two-thirds of the entries fall into either the "Cases" or "Themes" categories. Coverage is thorough; capital punishment, in particular, receives detailed attention, with 17 entries.

Routledge assembled an impeccable editorial group for this work, starting with Finkelman, a specialist in American legal history, race, and the law, who served as the chief legal expert in the Alabama Ten Commandments monument case (cited in the entry Judicial proceedings and references to the Deity ). The list of associate editors and 470 contributors reads like a who's who of respected scholars in criminal law, constitutional law, and legal history. The value of the encyclopedia is enhanced by see also references, brief but carefully selected references lists and recommendations for further reading, and lists of cited cases and statutes. A comprehensive index completes the work.

The Encyclopedia of Civil Liberties in America (Sharpe, 2005), with 700 entries, is a more introductory resource. Encyclopedia of American Civil Rights and Liberties (Greenwood, 2006) provides an overview of more than 600 topics in both the civil rights and liberties arenas. Encyclopedia of American Civil Liberties offers more comprehensive treatment of its topic and is highly recommended for public, academic, and law libraries. Jan Lewis
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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